Fiction Review: Above the Fog

Above the Fog, by Karen Lynn Nolan begins with this heart-wrenching prayer from twelve-year-old Coreen: “If there really is a God then let the roof of the mine collapse on Daddy today and send him to hell, where he belongs.”

Coreen and her family live in a coal-mining town down a holler in Kentucky. It’s typical of many coal towns—dirt poor. Or, maybe we should say mud poor. The novel begins with a storm followed by a flood and great danger to all the people in the valley.

Coreen and her mother help Grandma and Coreen’s dog, Patches, climb the hill and escape the flood. Everything they owned, which wasn’t much, was left behind in their ramshackle houses.

Coreen’s mom usually escapes in a different way: into novels. She doesn’t have a life outside of them. As the river rises, she realizes with both worry and relief that her husband hasn’t come home.

Several days later, Coreen’s father is found dead—and not a soul is sorry.

Follow Coreen, her mom, and the townspeople as they find out how her father died and what he, her mother, and many others had hidden for years. Follow Coreen and her mother as they discover the truth, which helps them both rise Above the Fog.

This is a great story, real and hard, lightened with some happy moments and giving people. I loved it.

Because of thematic elements, Above the Fog is for older teens and adults, not children. There is no cursing, and sordid details are not elaborated.

It isn’t fair

How many say, “I dropped out of church” or “I’m not interested in church” or “I can’t trust people in church” or “Just not interested in God” …

because …

someone who claims to be a Christian hurt them?

It’s sad that a Christian didn’t act like a Christian. That someone was a hypocrite. That a person who claims to be a Christ follower acted like a jerk—or worse—inflicting soul-wounds on another person.

But, you know something?

It’s not fair to judge God by something a rotten human being did.

Humans have sinned—since the first two of them. Humans fail. Humans can be hypocritical. They can hurt others. They can be downright nasty.

And humans who are Christians—or say they are—can disappoint.

Some of these hurts are very deep.

They can leave scars.

But people shouldn’t judge God by people.

People are on one spectrum, but God is:

  • love (1 John 4:8)
  • perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • good (1 Chronicles 16:34)
  • faithful (Psalm 119:90)
  • merciful (Psalm 103:8)
  • kind (Psalm 117:2)
  • full of grace and truth (John 1:14)
  • caring (1 Peter 5:7)

God doesn’t disappoint. He can’t. He wants to save every single soul. He gives light to every person. He wants to have a relationship with us.

He loves you.

Genuinely.

Without holding back.

Forever.

God is infinitely greater than any person.

Don’t reject His house because of sinful people.

And, more importantly, don’t reject Him because some of the people who go to church don’t act like Christians. Someone wisely said, “The church is a hospital.” The truth is that everyone at church is needy, and the Lord is the Great Physician.

Don’t give up on God.

He never gave up on you.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The Sin and the Sinner

Hate the sin and love the sinner. Right?

There’s a difference between the person and his sin.

Yet, we frequently hear:

  • She’s digusting.
  • He’s sickening.
  • I am shocked.
  • How could anyone…?

They’re talking about a person. Yes, this person sinned, but we’re talking about a human being for whom Christ died.

And, except for the grace of God, we might be into the same sickening stuff. Did you ever think about what the Lord might have saved you from?

Over the years, I’ve gained experience. One that’s been proved over and over is the old adage, “He who shouts the loudest has the most to hide.” It’s not always true, but I’ve watched it happen often. Critical people can have their own secret sins. They talk saintly-righteous and look down their noses at others, but they are themselves closet sinners—and many times they sin in exactly the same ways for which they condemn others.

The Bible says, For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Some sins are extremely abhorrent to decent people—and they should be. But, I’m afraid we forget that people who have sunk into such horrible sins are just persons who haven’t known the Lord’s grace and forgiveness.

When’s the last time you prayed for:

  • an abortionist to know the Lord?
  • a druggie to get saved?
  • an alcoholic to repent and change his life around by the power of God?
  • the author of a nasty book?
  • a prostitute?
  • a model for pornographic photos?
  • a woman who aborted her child?
  • trafficked kids and adults?
  • your lesbian friend?
  • bosses who trade sex for favors?
  • that person you labeled disgusting or pervert or sickening?

When’s the last time you viewed that person as a soul for whom Christ died?

The root cause of sin is man’s own flesh and its sinfulness. Even saved people have to battle temptations.

Thankfully, there’s help:

  • Jesus said, Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38).
  • There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Peter 2:9).

Jesus set the example of compassion. What did He do with the woman caught in the act of adultery? What did he say to her? He didn’t whitewash or overlook her sin, but He was kind and offered her forgiveness. He admonished her, go and sin no more.

When He dealt with Zacchaeus, who was a thief, Jesus went to his house. After Zacchaeus repented, Jesus said about him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

When Jesus was confronted by the demon-possessed young man who was naked and cutting himself, and living among the tombs, He addressed the demons and cast them out. Later, when people came to see the young man sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind. (The complete story is in Mark 5:1-15.)

Jesus is God. He is perfect, and He can’t stand sin, yet He has always shown love and compassion to those in sin. He still changes lives, some as dramatically as we read about in the Bible.

He continues to show mercy.

May we do the same.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36).